Seshata Sensi

JOURNALIST, CONSULTANT & PHOTOGRAPHER

Are Cannabis Users Suffering in the Philippines’ War on Drugs?

Source: Sensi Seeds

Since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power in the Philippines he has been waging a bloody war on drugs that threatens to destabilise the country entirely, and has affected users of cannabis as well as “hard” drugs such as meth. We spoke to a prominent cannabis activist to learn more about the situation and the everyday risks for cannabis users.

On May 9th, 2016, the population of the Philippines elected a new president – Rodrigo Duterte, former mayor of the city of Davao. Duterte has been linked to the notorious Davao Death Squad, believed to be responsible for the deaths of over a thousand suspected drug dealers between 1998 and 2008.

Since taking power, Duterte has embarked on a bloody police campaign to eradicate drug dealers and users from Philippine society. According to the Philippine news network Rappler, 3,526 suspected drug dealers and users lost their lives between July 1st and September 13th. Of these, 1,571 were “deaths under investigation” – suspects “legitimately killed” by police, often ostensibly for resisting arrest. The remainder were a reportedly a result of extrajudicial killings by vigilante groups, or are “unexplained”.

The Philippines suspended the death penalty in 2006; Duterte has repeatedly called for its reinstatement, but in the meantime is apparently content to leapfrog due process entirely.

The Philippines National Police (PNP) have named their campaign Plan Double Barrel – with one of the two “barrels” pointing at high-level, rich drug dealers, and the other targeting street-level users and pushers. However, thus far it appears that the vast majority of deaths have been from the poorest sections of society, while just a handful of high-level dealers have been arrested.

This has prompted some international critics to state that the current War on Drugs is in fact a war on the poor. Despite…

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